Excerpt for Hollow Earth by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Hollow Earth

Book 1

Written by John Macallen Davis

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical people, events or places are used fictitiously. Any other names, places, events or characters are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual places, events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2017 John Michael Davis

Edited by: Daniél Lecoq

All rights reserved, including the right to copy this book or portions of this book in any form. For more information, please email johnmdavisbooks@gmail.com.

First edition March 2017

If you are an author in search of quality professional editing, please email galaxycurse@gmail.com and should you encounter any errors during this reading experience, feel free to email us so that we may correct them and improve this work.

Originally published as Immortal

Serenity Valley Publishing

Other books by John Macallen Davis:

Gunship Series

Gunship Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Glimmeria Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Reflections Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Gears and Spears Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Legendary Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Space Rebels Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Bone Harvest Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Ghost Planet Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Skyfall Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Fleet Series

The Fleet Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Blood War Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Chaotic Worlds Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Afterworlds Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Run Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Great War Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Vampire Hunters Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Return of the Fear Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Colony Kindle - Nook Smashwords

Graveyard Kindle - Nook - Smashwords


Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

About the Author

Chapter 1

I'd like to tell you a story.

This is a story that was told to me by my dying grandfather. Upon visiting him in the Carrington Place, which is a home for adults in Virginia, he began bestowing onto me information that would prove to change my life. While my cousins would receive his personal belongings, my grandfather said he was giving me the greatest gift of all.

I was his favorite.

I always had been, honestly. As a child, he had taken to me. I can remember countless days of watching football with him on the couch. He would always explain that the game of football was very similar to the art of war, without the intrigue that often took place behind the front lines of war. I didn't know what that meant at the time. Now I do.

The other kids came around as well, but they usually went off somewhere to play, like typical children did before the internet was mainstream. Meanwhile, I saw fascination in my grandfather's eyes. He always told the best stories. My friends learned of World War 2 out of necessity – forced to learn its history by high school teachers. I learned through my grandfather's stories. He often weaved it all together like a good novel and I would gobble it up; listening as I hung from his every word.

Later in life as my cousins all moved on, only visiting him once a year during the Christmas season – I remained. While I did join the United States Army, I stayed in close contact with my family, which included my grandfather. After eight years of service to my country, I returned home to find him aging quite fast. I cared for him as best I could, when I could.

Still, there was a look of past adventure in his eyes.

I'm sad to report that my grandfather went to be with the Lord on February 7th, 2017. But before he did, the man who'd taught me about the second great war divulged a secret onto me that would forever change my life.

Adolf Hitler was alive.

I know what you must think, as I thought it too. But a dying grandfather has no need to lie about such things. Especially given the way he grabbed my shirt and tried his best to make me believe. I saw desperation. I believe that everyone who faces their ultimate demise has something to finish. And my grandfather's was this.

It was our last conversation and he made me swear to seek out the truth. He had seen Adolf Hitler with his own eyes and narrowly escaped with his life. That was back in 1981, according to my grandfather. I can't say that I fully believed him at the time, but I did believe that he believed it. And that was enough for me.

My cousins, all of whom were distant when it came to our grandfather, received money and titles to his vehicles and sums of cash. His daughter Clarice, who hadn't been to visit him in nearly two decades, was given his large house. Complete with seventeen acres of land, a falling barn and some of the prettiest scenery you could imagine. It was picturesque perfect for a life in the deep south.

What a shit deal.

I was straddled with some memory of what he'd seen or what he'd thought he'd seen, along with a leather journal. The type of journal that could have been bought on the cheap at any decent office supply store.

When I left that retirement home my heart told me that I'd never see him again; a man that I had grown to respect and truly look up to. And he'd shafted me in the end.

I had half a mind to throw the damn journal away as soon as I got back home. It was only a two-hour drive – I'd still be pissed when I got there.

Why had he deliberately given me the shit end of the stick? I was the only person outside of his official caretaker to actually care, and she'd been paid to do it. My concern was authentic. It wasn't the worldly possessions themselves – I had enough money. It was the insult of it. My other relatives didn't care about Grandpa Carter. He was a smart man, surely he knew that they didn't care.

There had to be another reason...and there was.

As I discovered when I began reading the journal.

My grandfather had always been obsessed with the study of World War 2. He'd only been a child during the great war, but I can remember countless times when he'd sit alongside me and begin telling me about the greatest battles and their outcomes. Even the romances of field generals and mistresses.

According to his journal, Grandpa Carter first read of Hitler's survival beyond World War 2 through a small media outlet in Argentina. Just as I hadn't, or you don't – my grandfather didn't believe what he'd read. It wouldn't be the first time a hoax had been given even the slightest ounce of credibility in the media world.

But this story was different.

A man claiming to have received money in exchange for helping one of the worst dictators in modern day history escape, could also name his accomplices. Moreover, he provided several key pieces of paperwork as proof, along with a small tin box filled with pictures of the man he claimed to be Hitler. Though aged, the man in the pictures' look was unmistakable.

My grandfather had made his money. Aside from distant family, he was alone in this world – alone with the curiosity that resides in so many of us. So my grandfather left for Argentina in order to seek out a man named Adolf Leipzig – presumably Hitler.

He noted that the FBI themselves were also looking into the numerous eyewitness accounts coming from Argentina. And while their own investigations came up empty, my grandfather, a retired detective, claimed he knew where and how to go about it.

Is it so hard to believe that Russian, at that time Soviet Union troops, rushed to declare Hitler dead? There would certainly be honor in finding the most hated man in the world. It's possible. If Hitler had the foresight to understand this, then using body doubles which he'd been known to use, probably would have satisfied the Soviets temporarily.

Now imagine the leaders of the Soviet Union, which had lied on previous occasions, coming to the realization that the real Hitler had somehow slipped through their grasp. Is it so hard to believe that they would again lie to their own people in order to deliver Hitler in the proverbial sense and save face in the process?

My grandfather didn't think so.

For months at a time, he would leave the beautiful countryside of North Carolina and head to Argentina. Within the journal pages were receipts to testify to the fact. And then, by his own admission, he had frozen up during a chance encounter with Hitler while staying in Argentina and preparing to return home.

There was absolutely no mistaking it, he'd written. It was Adolf Hitler.

He'd described Hitler as being much older, but still walking on his own. His hair had lost most of its color, but his soulless eyes remained. Several mysterious men accompanied him. Enough so, that my grandfather was fearful of approaching him. Instead, he chose to place his own life at risk in following them from the gas station in question.

There, under the timid light of the moon, my grandfather watched the man he believed to be Hitler and his escorts, walk into a large tree inside of the seclusion of thick Argentinian forest. My grandfather waited for nearly an hour before easing closer to investigate. It was no tree at all, but rather a doorway.

A doorway where?

My grandfather wasn't sure. Shortly after returning home he began to grow ill and though he fought like hell for many years, it was an illness that would ultimately claim his life. He'd not return to Argentina, except in his own mind.

But behind the wide smile of a man that I truly respected, was the belief that one day I would be ready to resume his own life's work. He'd included a map with vivid detail and just as important, a set of numbers followed by a second set of numbers. I would later match them to a bank account in Argentina worth exactly $2,871,090. According to Argentinian standards, his account was worth nearly 40 ½ million pesos. I'm not sure where this money came from and honestly I don't want to know. The fact was...my grandfather had been living a second life in hopes of catching Hitler.

I almost collapsed when I realized how much money sat in the bank accounts. I could have taken the money and done whatever I saw fit with it, but my grandfather's instructions were to use the money in order to find Hitler, or his whereabouts. It seems that I was the only realitive he trusted – I shared his love of the second great war.

Thoughts of brand new cars and even houses bounced around in my head. I was single – never married. I could have easily purchased a yacht and filled it with good booze and women with ample tits. Easily.

But my grandfather had struck a match to my own interest, just as he'd done so many times before when I was a child, peddling his stories of great heroes and marvelous escapes. The types of stories that I believe are dying too quickly, with the veterans who served during the war, now stranded in a generation that too easily forgets. I suppose that's why my Grandpa Carter left the journal to me, rather than to another family member. Perhaps he saw the same thirst of adventure in my eyes.

I was at least obligated to give my grandfather's wishes an honest effort. I would conduct one search and give it due diligence. Then, if I was unable to turn up anything on the mysteries of Hitler, I would use the money to pay off my own home, upgrade my car and begin looking into that yacht filled with nude women.

But before I headed to Argentina, I'd need a plan.

I trusted them with my life.

Hunter Shelton and Mitch “Macho” Harris. Childhood friends and, more importantly, men of military service, just like myself.

Jack,” Macho said. “You've lost it.”

I know what it sounds like...” I began.

Do you?” he asked. “Because to me, it sounds like you want us to go trampling around through Argentina looking for a man that's been dead for decades.”

I took the criticism; it was the least I could do.


I turned my attention to the larger of the two. Hunter was as well-framed as a man could be. He lifted weights on a regular basis – he lifted at home. Hunter had always made it a point to tell me that. Gyms were full of tanning lotion and beautiful women, and that pissed him off. Not that he didn't like the idea of women, but rather the disrespect for man against weights. For him, it was a ritual of becoming a man.

Unfortunately, Macho was anything but macho. He'd earned the nickname in high school after standing up to two football players and getting his ass kicked in the process. Macho was as mouthy as the day was long but barely stout enough to hold his own britches up. He also happened to be good with guns. He had been quite the sportsman prior to his military service and they had doubled his proficiency with a decent gun.

Well,” Hunter began. The North Carolina breeze did little to sway the buzzed hair atop his head as his mind pondered my offer. “Could be trouble if they catch us bringing weapons into the country. We're talking big trouble. But I'm in.”

You're in?” Macho couldn't believe it.

Honestly, neither could I.

The way I figure it,” Hunter replied. “Jack's a friend and he'd do the same for us. I'm not saying I believe the scumbag is out there somewhere, alive...but friends help friends. So yea, I'm in.”

I turned my attention away from the former U.S. Army infantryman and back to our thin friend.

Ah shit,” Macho grumbled. “The Panthers play the Cowboys on Sunday. I want to be back to watch the game.”

I smiled, understanding that it was as close to saying yes as he'd get.

Over the course of the next two hours, the three of us began making a list of things we'd need for the trip to Argentina. Most of the supplies would need to be purchased after we landed, otherwise there would be a hell of a lot of explaining to do when we hit customs. Printed information on Adolf Hitler, a bag filled with sidearms and rum soaked cigars would draw the wrong kind of attention.

The cigars...all Macho's idea.

Chapter 2

My first impression of Argentina was the fact that it was absolutely gorgeous.

After my bout with love at first sight came the realization that I wasn't in the United States anymore. We arrived in Buenos Aires and it was a rather large city, which came complete with the normal problems that large cities face. Buses sped through the streets much faster than I was used to and the sidewalks were heavily cracked. Plus, as I painfully discovered, the ATM machines were few and far between.

I was essentially a millionaire with no means of getting my money. The few places we found had strict limits on how much cash could be withdrawn. Setting us back even further and factoring in perfectly with the bitching.

Damn this heat.” Macho complained.

It's summertime.” Hunter replied.

Summertime in Buenos Aires.” I added.

Y'all can hit me with all of this complicated talk until you're blue in the face,” Macho said. “All I know is it's fucking hot.”

We'd take a cab around the city and pretend to be sight seeing. Meanwhile, we each looked for a suitable hotel that was located within walking distance of any stores that we thought might sell the type of equipment we needed.

Finally, we stopped at the Buenos Aires Grand Hotel. It was very nice. Even Macho couldn't find anything to complain about, which was unusual. He'd quickly gotten out of his traveling clothes and slipped his skinny frame into an overstuffed hotel robe.

It's best if we go in one at a time,” Hunter said. “It'll look a lot less suspicious if we're not buying everything on this list in a single haul.”

I agreed with a nod. A part of me felt like a common criminal, although we were doing nothing illegal. But our intent was to go off and search for possibly the most notorious man in the history of the world. That carried weight and for a moment, I felt that weight bearing down on me.

Breathing deep, I readied myself to go shopping.

The plan was a simple one. We'd arrived around midday, which was the hottest time of the day and the root of Macho's bitching. I would go into a large store that stood at the opposite end of the city block and casually gather a third of the things on our list. Later, just as the sun began to set, Hunter would go in and do the same. We'd both pose as tourists with no knowledge of the other. Macho was to go in the following morning and complete the list.

Then, from the hotel lobby, we'd flag down a taxi and make our way to the edge of the city. We'd use the excuse of hiking, which we'd surely be doing a lot of. There was approximately seven miles of terrain to cover on foot once we left the city. From there, according to my grandfather's map, we'd encounter a relatively thick forest and upon locating a double waterfall, the tree would be visible.

Beyond that...we had nothing.

The more I kicked the idea around in my head, the more it felt like we were chasing fool's gold. For nearly an hour, I fought the urge to quit and go back home. Hell, I was rich! What need did I have for proving my grandfather right?

But then I remembered he surely had felt the same way. I began to remember myself as a child, seated next to my grandfather as he told me stories of the great war.

Something or someone had crossed his path and changed the work of his life in the process. Finding Hitler and proving it to the world had become my grandfather's obsession in his later years. There had to be something to his theory. I knew my grandfather well enough to know that he wouldn't have chased this theory of his without good reason.

He wouldn't have chased fool's gold.

So, I swallowed my pride and went shopping.

While the trip itself had been just as uneventful as I had hoped, a large truck nearly struck me down in the street near in front of the hotel. And it would have been my own fault. The large bag of supplies had hoarded just enough of my vision to let me walk recklessly in front of the truck, who's driver looked pissed as he drove past.

I returned to the hotel with a bag filled with flashlights, ample batteries, a week's supply of dry socks, three blankets, a lock-blade knife, a case of bottled water, gloves and boots, both leather.

You looked like Santa Claus carrying that bag of shit down the street.” Macho laughed. And I expected it.

Most of the heavy stuff is on your list.” I replied.

Suddenly, his wide smile turned to the frown of a lottery loser. There would be no grand fortune as he scratched his proverbial ticket, only a bad back and a continuing hatred for the sweltering heat.

Hunter's haul would go in much the same way that evening. He, too, looked like a jolly man with a sack of toys draped across his shoulder, though I dare say the carried them much better than I had.

As he returned, the city of Buenos Aires was beneath a full moon and paper thin clouds, which only added to the experience.

What exactly had I been thinking? I'd somehow managed to drag my friends halfway around the globe in search for history's most ruthless dictator when I should have stayed home and made plans. I'd been given a lot of money. Spending it wisely would surely be no easy task. Yet here I was, looking across the shiny railing that boxed our large balcony in.

It was the Grand Hotel's largest suite, but I'd not paid heavily for it. It had taken nearly a thousand pesos to fetch the massive room, roughly sixty-three bucks, and the room looked like something from a movie. The floor was made of shiny wood that barely showed any age, while two couches rested in perfect positioning to one another. One was a sectional, the other was very long. There was a community table in what served as the kitchen area and it, too, looked like something that had been plucked straight from a home design magazine.

But above all else, the balcony spoke to me.

It's very hard to explain, but outside in that fresh Argentinian air, beneath a hovering moon that brimmed with neon white, I felt my grandfather's presence. While my two friends tried their best to watch local television on the large flat screen mounted to the living room wall, pretending to understand what was being said. Hunter spoke a bit of Spanish, but certainly not enough to follow the soap opera in front of them. Macho spoke nothing – broken English, on his best day. I supposed he was just watching in hopes of catching a glimpse of nudity. He'd never shied away from his lust for women. The damning fact was that women had a way of shying away from him.

And so, with beers lined up on the coffee table in front of them, my two most trusted friends watched on. Not me. My own skin crawled with nervousness and my gut instinct was that we were about to become part of something incredible.

The map itself was crude and there were what I believed to be hidden clues throughout my grandfather's journal. But it had been the look on my grandfather's face that had sold me on the idea. I saw adventure – I saw fear.

For the remainder of the evening, I would pray. Right there on the massive balcony beneath my feet, I would ask that God watched over us and, if my grandfather could somehow hear me, that he would point us into the right direction.

The next morning seemed to pick up in an instant. From nowhere, the streets of Buenos Aires were once again filled with bodies on their way to and from. We'd becoming nothing more than three more tourists, in a manner of speaking.

Three and a half, if you included the massive sack on the back of our scrawny-legged friend. He looked like a small ant carrying a full-brown apple – nearly pushing him to the ground entirely as his legs bowed out under the pressure. The list had been a long one, but not that long. I suspected that our good friend had added a few extra items himself.

He had.

Don't ask.” Macho said.

And we didn't have to. The sound of glass bottles clanging around was enough to clue us in on the fact that he'd fetched a good amount of booze. And while we'd tried to limit our list to only the essentials, I knew that Macho would only argue the fact. He'd claim the booze was in case of an emergency toothache or something. Plus, he'd followed me halfway around the world. So I let it go.

A cab had been easy enough to spot. It was solid black until you reached the top, which became bright yellow. And they were literally everywhere. It didn't take very long to hold a hand in the air and have a cab screech to a halt. Though it did take almost ten full minutes to pack our belongings into the cab's trunk.

The driver was nice enough, yet very quiet. The cab itself smelled of heavy beef and noodles, which could have been seen as good or bad, depending. Most importantly, the driver had a pistol holstered near the car's transmission shifter.

It had taken nearly thirty minutes for the driver to get us to the spot we needed to be – just a few miles outside of the city, but far enough that it looked distant. It took only thirty seconds or so to convince the driver to sell us the pistol.

At first, he didn't understand. Hunter spoke very bad Spanish and he was the best of our bunch. But after pointing to the pistol and then to the landscape we'd be hiking, I held a wad of money up and ready. Approximately fourteen-hundred pesos, which is all that we had left. The rest sat comfortably in the bank somewhere and besides, we'd no use for cash in the countryside of Argentina.

The driver eagerly took the money and it didn't take us long to figure out why. The revolver looked as though it were centuries old. It appeared to be some sort of military revolver with splashes of Old West influence thrown in. The handle was made of scarred wood and the gun itself was dingy blue steel.

It came with six rounds.

Apparently, the driver was exuberant about getting the money. He sped away so quickly that a thick cloud of dust romped us away from where we stood. He'd been grinning like an idiot throughout his drive away. A point that Macho didn't care for.

I'll knock that damn smile from his face when I see him again.”

He then spit a mouthful of dust and forming mud from his mouth and continued to stare at the cab, which had now gotten far enough away to be forgotten.

We should go. There's a long hike in front of us.” I said.

Jack's right. We need to get moving.” Hunter added.

Macho nodded, finally turning away from the small cab and the large trail of dust it had left behind.

Who's carrying all the shit?”

The hike had taken hours. It had been much harder than any of us had anticipated. Especially for Hunter, who carried the bulk of the heavy supplies, while Macho bitched beneath the lightest load.

As we came onto a double waterfall, it didn't take us long to rest our supplies onto the ground and stand with exhaustion. Still, the sight of two towering waterfalls was one of pure magnificence. The faint sound of splashing water quickly grew into a thunderous roar and only seemed to add to what felt like a magical moment for me personally.

Macho rested himself onto the ground with a cigar to his lips. The massive smoke stick could have doubled as an elephant's tusk, had it been white. Moments later, with sweat pooling on his forehead, Macho laid back down in the tall grass and drew deep breaths, cursing beneath his breath and smoke rose up.

I wouldn't do that if I were you.” I said.

What the fuck are you talking about?” Macho didn't seem too concerned.


Had a bolt of lightning hit my friend? Macho jumped to his feet with a look of fear haunting his eyes. He'd never been that fond of the slithering variety.

You never said anything about snakes.”

Well it is Argentina,” Hunter laughed. “Besides, we need to get our packs in order before we head out.”

Head out...we just stopped?” Macho whined.

I heard the bickering as I panned my set of binoculars around slowly. Nothing seemed out of place. There were no observation decks for tourists around the waterfalls. They were much too small for that. But there were two, just as my grandfather's journal had sworn, and the surrounding area according to his hand-drawn map was spot on. Grandpa Carter had been here before. There was no doubting the fact.

I did what I could to position myself according to his map. Then, I began looking into the general direction of what he'd claimed had been a hidden tunnel of some sort. A part of me had thought my grandfather had slipped into lunacy during his older years. That was the most logical explanation. But the other part of me wanted to find this tunnel of his. I wanted to believe that the impossible was in fact...possible.

There are few moments in life when you know.

Staring at your first child in the minute that it's born, you know your place in life. Soul mates know one another at first glance. When a man or woman gets right with God above – they know. These are the types of moments I will use to describe it.

As my eyes caught sight of a very large tree – I knew.

It was surrounded by others and I had nearly missed it. In fact, I would have missed it, had I not been looking for it. The tree in questions was slightly different in both shade and texture. Its brown was paler. Its bark was too shiny.

There.” I said.

At first, neither of my friends saw the difference between the tree in question and the hundreds more around it. Perhaps I was slipping into lunacy as well.

He's right,” Hunter said. Staring hard through the binoculars while easing my mind a bit. “There's something off about it.”

Looks like a damn tree to me.” Macho testified.

It looks too much like a tree,” Hunter disputed. “I don't see any flaws or imperfections. There are no vines hanging. The trees around it have plenty.”

Yea.” I added.

Well let's go, then.” Macho demanded.

Our packs first.” I said.

Nodding to Hunter, I was OK with him keeping the pistol. He nodded in return and tucked it behind him, beneath the waist of his jeans.

We can't carry all of this water.” Hunter said.

No,” I agreed. “We'll need to take a few bottles each and leave the rest. We need to focus on things that will help us. Things like rope and-”

Knives,” Macho said proudly. “Ain't nobody trying to die.”

I wanted to laugh and I would have, if not for my nerves. Instead, each of us packed our own bag, which was a professional grade hiking pack. We each took a hand ax, very high quality pocket knife and, of course, Hunter had the pistol. We agreed on three bottles of water each, along with a fistful of meal replacement bars and plenty of batteries. It didn't leave us much room for anything else, but we each took something we believed would be of use. Hunter took a small fire starting kit, I took a bundle of rock climbing rope, along with the clasps, and Macho took two bottles of sherry and a hard box of cigars.

For toothaches.” he insisted.

After getting ourselves together, we rested for an hour or so. Keeping a very close eye on the tree in the process. Finally, we mustered enough courage to begin walking toward the large tree and did so with the utmost caution.

Upon arriving, it seemed very normal. But Hunter spiked our caution as he dug his knife into the bark of the tree. Removing a small piece of the brittle bark exposed solid steel! This was no tree at all, but rather a doorway of some type. Just as my grandfather had sworn.

Chapter 3

We'd found an elevator.

It was the type of elevator that you'd normally find in a large factory. A cargo elevator with two sets of doors that would have taken dynamite in order to breach. In this case, they stood open and waiting. With only a single button on its interior, the elevator seemed to invite us; if not taunt us.


Hunter entered, followed by myself and then Macho. We stood there in silence for at least a minute solid. I watched as clouds passed over, reminding me of the prettiest sky I'd ever seen. Fresh air brushed against us. I wondered exactly how long it would be before my lungs drenched themselves in air this fresh again.

With a deep sigh and a silent nod from each of my friends, I pressed the large green button and watched as both sets of steel doors closed by themselves. There were several openings which allowed us to look outside of the elevator, which only added to the peril of the descent.

We fell at a rate of speed that would be hard to estimate. Damn fast, I imagined Macho thought. He'd certainly be right. The elevator dropped swiftly enough for my lunch to begin making its way back up. Hunter held the walls as best he could and Macho squatted in the corner. Refusing to look, like a child cowering from the boogeyman.

Steel passed by the small windows of the elevator at first. Then dirt, accompanied by large white lights. If the elevator would have been an airplane, it would have fallen from the sky fifty times over, and at about the same speed.

Finally, after coming to the end of what I'd believed to be our very last moments alive, Macho, Hunter and I loosened our grips of the thick railing inside of the elevator, which began stopping as it had been programmed.

As the doors opened, each of us sprinted out of the deathtrap and staggered with disorientation, splashing into a large body of water. The coldest water that a person could fathom. My heart nearly exploded; burst, even, as my lungs began to gasp for breath in instinctive fashion.

With the hellacious ride down, I cannot say how long it took me to swim ashore. Less than a minute, all things considered, though it seemed like an eternity against the torture of freezing cold water. My mind worried for my friends – my body collapsed against the bed of soft clay that surrounded the cold water.

My eyes took in a most intriguing sight.

The ceiling of the cave, or whatever we had discovered, glowed iridescent blue. Not slightly, but with utter magnificence. It rivaled the brightest sky I had ever seen, yet it was no sky at all. Nothing more than hard rock.

Then, moments later, my vision was brought to attention by a large black blur of movement. The kind that is indistinguishable, yet telling.

We were not alone.

My body was too exhausted to jump alive. As I turned my head, I could see Macho laying in pretty much the same condition – watching as Hunter rose to his feet and began defending himself. He'd always been the strongest of the three.

Ape men.

I know what you must be thinking, yet I must speak the truth. These were ape men in every fashion imaginable, and they wore shiny armor. There must have been at least fifty of these beasts and we were completely at their mercy, there was no getting around it. But Hunter would not be convinced of it.

My good friend put up one hell of a fight, lashing punches onto the closest ape man and eventually drawing our only pistol – firing onto several of them and ending them. Shortly after, Hunter was ended, too. Bludgeoned to death by thick wood. The weapons were designed in much the same fashion that a ball bat would have been, only much thicker and very crude in appearance. At first, Hunter's hand went up with defense. Eventually it fell. He was dead, yet the creatures continued to wail on his body for several minutes.

By now, I was up to my feet. Preparing to enter into the same fate.

One of the ape men uttered something loudly. Its language was unlike anything I'd heard before. Tribal, yet advanced. I presumed this beast was trying to warn me, in fact, I bet my life on it. I held a hand out and knelt down. Praying that it was not the end for me.

I could hear several of the ape men conversing and it sounded like an argument, in all honesty. Two of their own lay as dead as Hunter, in a pool of their own thick red blood. As one of them approached, perhaps a superior among their people, I closed my eyes.

The creature began to spout off words to me, yet I could not understand. I did understand its demeanor. Anger...frustration.

I can't understand you.” I said with apology.

The beast looked me up and down. Eventually spouting off more derelict language. Then, as abruptly as it had confronted me, the monster walked away. Its subordinates would soon place my hands in shackles, as well as my neck. They were not kind in doing so, either, and I did not care. The rough manner in which they shackled me was a far better fate than death. I was simply happy to be alive.

I watched as the ape men searched our bags and even Hunter's body. Then, having shackled us both together, we were chained together closely enough that I could smell the rank cigar smoke on Macho's skin. I'd no idea what this place was, but I did know that it was something undiscovered. A world within our own world, miles below the surface.

One of the beasts shoved me in the back with a threatening manner. Therefore, against my will, I began to walk. Realizing that I may never again be able to find my way back to the elevator which had led us to this subterranean hell.

We had marched for several hours without pause, finally stopping to rest on a series of large rocks near an ocean. Was it a real ocean? That wasn't for me to decide. But it looked real enough. Waves of cold water crashed ashore and as far as the eye could see, buckles of water swirled about. As I looked to the sky, or cave ceiling in this case, it now seemed further out of reach than the sky of cotton clouds that I last remembered over the city of Buenos Aries. If this were only a cave, it was indeed the largest on record.

But I believe it was much more than that. For all intent and purposes, this place seemed vaster than my own world, which rested miles above us. The luminous blue stone was everywhere, giving a slightly brighter atmosphere than I had grown to expect back on the surface.

This place was inconceivable, yet real.

I first learned of its true vastness the moment that I noticed other ape men began bringing their own captured to our position. Not one group, or even two; but rather enough groups that I could not count them on both hands. The ape men now easily numbered in the hundreds and the captured, myself included, were at least fifty or so.

I could see the ape man who'd looked me over, speaking to another. It seemed apologetic and for a moment, the other glanced into my direction. It was certainly explaining how two of their own had been killed.

And then, beneath the scorching light of these mysterious blue stones, I caught sight of the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. From my home back in the United States to my travels around the world, I had never laid eyes on a woman so utterly complete.

Brandy colored hair flowed down to the bottoms of her shoulders. And while she was clothed in tattered white material, her flawless curves were still visible. In fact, as I quickly began to discover, most of the slaves were virtually perfect in every way. They were lean – muscular, even. Their looks could have been viewed as beautiful or handsome, respectively. But this particular woman had eyes that were the most brilliant of browns that I'd ever seen. Her look froze me, in a manner of speaking, as my heart would not allow my mind to concentrate. I had to know more about her.

Her name is Tara.” a strange voice said.

I turned to this nearby captive with utter surprise.

You speak my language?”

Though it was partially broken and heavy with slang, this complete stranger spoke well enough to be understood.

Of course. We are all Brapok, are we not?”

I did everything in my power to explain to my new friend that I was not of this world. Well, perhaps in the technical sense I was, but my world above was much different than the one my feet now trode.

You do not believe me?” I asked.

It is not that I do not believe you,” he replied. “But I have never seen anyone like us who was not a Brapok, other than the feared.”

The feared?”

They look like we do, but are highly militarized. Often, they wear black and carry weapons of wonder. Some call them magic.”

The Nazis?

Where can I find these feared?”

He looked upon me with the eyes of madness.

You do not find the feared – they find you. And may the gods be with you if that ever happens. These bonds that enslave us to the Gorgum are child's play compared to what the feared would do to us.”

The Gorgum?” I asked. Glancing to the ape men.

Yes,” he replied. “They can be a brutal species at times but more oft than not, they treat their Brapok slaves with dignity.”


He held up his wrists, which, like mine, were in chains.

It's what they mean to do with us. Caudium was not built in a single day and it wasn't built by the hands of Gorgum.”

By slaves?” I asked.

Aye,” he replied. “This world improves because of our hard work and struggle. But they feed us and allow us to live, so the trade is fair.”

Like hell it is,” I announced. “My friend, Macho.”

Macho lifted his head for a moment. I had never seen my talkative friend so quiet and imagined that he still thought it to be a dream. And perhaps it was. But the long march had certainly brought pain to my feet.

I mean to escape.”

The stranger looked me over closely.

Is escape possible?” I asked.

Perhaps,” he replied. “But it would have to come at the right time. The Brapok are a mighty race all their own, but what stands beyond the mountains around us can be far worse. There are unspeakable things.”

We cannot defeat them head-to-head.” I admitted.

No,” he replied. “It would take ten slaves to bring down a single Gorgum. And they outnumber us by a great many. Our escape will need to be fast and during a period of time when the Gorgum do not expect it.”

If we don't make it?” I asked.

Then they will kill us in the presence of the other slaves as a warning.”

I nodded. Pulling myself into deep thought.

There is no shame in calling this off.” he said.

I glanced to him for a moment, eventually smiling.

You say her name is Tara?”

Aye,” he grinned. “Princess of Odelia.”

A princess?”

Aye,” he replied. “And I am Lenzu, her sworn protector. We were besieged by the Gorgum nearly a week ago. Her father commands a mighty army and they are sure to be searching all of Caudium for her.”

We have an army?”

How long have you been in Cadium?” Lenzu asked.

Half a fucking day,” Macho grumbled. Watching as the ape men made quick work of the liquor he'd brought along. “Damn thieves.”

Lenzu joined him in watching the Gorgum pass around the spoils of plunder. Food, cigars and fine alcohol.

You've much to learn about Caudium.” Lenzu finally replied.

I nodded. Finding it increasingly hard to take my eyes off of Tara, the princess of Odelia and its mighty army.

I had only started to realize how vast this underworld known as Caudium was. But when we began marching once more, that's when I understood that my eyes, my imagination, even, had only started to scratch the surface.

All around us were the sights you would normally expect to see from a world above. There were no skyscrapers or airplanes cluttering the sky, granted. But everything else seemed to be as it should have been in the nineteenth century back where I came from.

There were fields of tall grass and heavily wooded areas as far as the eye could see. In the other direction, water filled the horizon in what I still believe to be a full-brown ocean. Caudium, or whatever in the hell this place at the center of our planet was, had proven itself to be a living, thriving world.

How? I'm still unsure of the specifics.

I spoke to Lenzu as I could during the march, which wasn't often. While our captors seemed to relax during periods of rest, they were strict during the march. Lenzu had admitted that even he did not know where these mysterious glowing stones had first originated. Only that they were known universally by the people of Caudium as wonderstones.

As for the water, one could only speculate that it had been beneath our surface the entire time. Pooling together in order to form an ocean. But Lenzu had testified that there were several oceans and lands far beyond the water. He'd seen them with his own eyes.

From what I could see, the weaponry throughout this strange land seemed to be primitive at best. A few of the Gorgum carried swords, while most of them carried blunt objects made of wood. Lenzu spoke of projectile weapons of magic that were in the hands of the feared, and I assumed he spoke of guns. He also said that the feared were very secretive and often left no survivors in their wake. The stories he told me had been passed down through the years and I can only imagine that much of it was added along the way.

I learned of a great war between the Gorgum and the feared. It had taken place many years ago and while the feared had much better weaponry, the Gorgum had great numbers. Ultimately, the war had drawn to a standstill and both sides had gone their own way. Though they would still engage in battle upon the sight of the other.

Lenzu spoke of Tara very little, only to say that she'd been a great princess to her people. Looking upon her, I would have guessed that Tara was in her early twenties and her eyes, as beautiful as they may have been, had seen uncounted horrors.

Along the way, should a captive fall with exhaustion, he or she would be beaten...sometimes to death. The ape men had no tolerance for weakness. My legs ached with sharp pains that accompany any long march without water. More than once I thought about quitting and taking whatever punishment the Gorgum saw fit. But each time I would glance over to Macho, who remained quiet and remained on his feet.

Eventually we reached what I believed would be our final destination. A large castle structure encompassed by several rings of stone. I could see plenty of ape men patrolling across the flat rings. Water surrounded much of the castle and there was a heavy sense of military there, along with hundreds of slaves working in the land around the castle.

As we passed by, the slaves would raise their head momentarily. With curiosity, I suppose, though they wouldn't stop long enough to draw the attention of their superiors. Perhaps they also felt sorrow for us. The rest of those with us seemed to look at the castle with ultimate defeat. They would either live a very short time against the back breaking work or they would live many years. Either way, they had no hope of ever leaving. But I looked at this castle with great curiosity. I, along with my scrawny friend, knew of the world above. I could not justify remaining a slave for the rest of my life when my life was above ground.

Finding evidence of Hitler was now in the back of my mind. I no longer cared to discover the truth. Now, my only sense of purpose was doing whatever I had to do in order to get back to the surface and tell this story.

Chapter 4

My time among the ape men had not been easy.

While they did feed us and treat us with the proper amount of respect at times, there were also many times in which I witnessed the beatings of male slaves, while the female slaves had been taken to the chambers of those in charge, without consent.

As best I could figure, a person's chances of having their time go smoothly depended upon the guards who oversaw them and the temperament of those guards. I had been lucky in that respect. The guards posted to us both during living hours and working hours were mild, whereas many were not.

The work itself was backbreaking in most cases. Either we'd plow the fields using the crudest of tools or we'd forge stones into blocks for building using nothing more than heavy hammers and the sweat of our brows.

I honestly can not tell you how long I've been among the ape people. Or in this savage land, for that matter. Here, there is no differential between day or night – we only have the bright blue glow above us, every single moment.

At times, it has proven to be maddening. They say that a man does not know what he has until it has been taken away from him. What I would give for a single night of darkness! As much as I want to remember my life before we entered that cursed tree, I cannot. At least not in specific details. I remind myself of the bright sunshine of Argentina and the thought of bacon frying back home in the United States. Yet I cannot remember how it smells. This place had started to strip everything human away from me.

And then came the witchers.

I could see it in my guardsman's eyes as the small horde of hoofed feet came, trailed by a thick cloud of dust. Not intimidation, nor fear; but a very real sense of urgency. I saw it across the ape man's face as he looked to several of his own kind. Each of them bore the same look and tightened hands to their weapons.

Approaching swiftly on horseback, seven riders came. Their armor was unique and held many resemblances to that of dark knights of a much earlier century. Their leader, as he seemed to be, held a bladed weapon high into the sky and commanded the other riders to halt. Wings of bone protruded from their helmets, particularly their leader. After several moments of staring across the fields with ghostly white eyes, which dared through a black mask and accompanying red handprint, their leader dismounted his horse and began taking stock upon us.

The ape men lined the nearest slaves up, myself included, to be inspected more thoroughly. Why, I did not know.

Their leader said nothing at first. He merely grabbed hold of each slave's face by the chin and tilted our heads back and forth with authority. In some cases, he would then grab a slave by the shirt and pull them forward. Choosing them.

And then came my turn.

Though I had fear, I refused to show it. If I were to be selected for death, or whatever fate awaited me – so be it. Hunter had died for less. The witcher grabbed hold of my chin and flailed my head about. His eyes stared through me with bastard conviction. Finally, with a thick glove that was spiked by the thorns of a devil, he pulled me forward.

This one is strong.” he said.

And to my surprise, he sounded human. His throat was deep and was certainly here on business, but I was more like him than I expected.

Tell me, slave,” he said. Staring into my soul. “I am to pick one more of you. Who here is of your same strength.”

I turned with well-hidden timidness. Macho looked to me with friendship and I knew in my heart that I should pick him. After all, he was here, in this God forsaken place because of me. But there was also Lenzu. A man who seemed to know so much about this place that was still so very foreign to me. With his help, it was possible that I could once again see the surface and return home. Finally, I glanced to Tara and though we'd not formally spoken to one another, I had certainly watched from a distance. She was extraordinarily passionate about helping those around her. As a princess should be. The thoughts of ape men eventually having their way with her did not sit well with me, either.

Her.” I said. Pointing Tara out.

What?” Macho lashed out. Much to the disappointment of the ape men, who did what they could to silence him. “You're leaving me here? I wouldn't even be here if it weren't for you! We've been friends since-”

His words tapered off as the ape men smashed a blunt hammer of wood into his stomach. From there, they dragged my friend away. Ripping my conscience apart in the process. I understood that my choice had likely condemned him to death.

We'll have her, too,” the witcher said. “That's five slaves in all.”

The leader of the ape men did what math he could in his head. I understood at that point that our sorry asses were being bartered off to the witchers. For what, I wasn't sure. But it hadn't been the first time. The two haggling men were far too comfortable with the act.

The ape man spouted off a mouthful of language that I could not understand. But I did understand what it had entailed.

That's ridiculous!” the witcher cried out. “I'll not trade three of my horses and a hundred shinies for five slaves!”

Again, a translator among the witchers relayed the message. The speaker of the ape men grew irate, as shown on his face. He'd not be cheated and swindled out of slaves that he'd himself stolen.

He countered with another offer and several tense breaths. I do not know what the offer was, as the witcher did not repeat it. But he took it as unacceptable as well. The stout man behind the evil mask looked us up and down once more. Finally, he looked to the ape men.

You tell him that I'll surrender two horses and eighty shinies. Nothing more. He either takes my offer or we will begin dealing with another tribe of Gorgum.”

His translator gave the final proposal in the the ape men's primitive language. Their leader not only grew angry, but he also began pacing. Resting his hand upon the hilt of his sword, I thought for a moment that battle would surely ensue.

It did not.

The Gorgum nodded in agreement and the currency of this underworld changed hands. They were small and looked to be gemstones. Different colors, but certainly worth something. The same fistful of shinies would have fetched a hundred thousand dollars on the surface, but here, they were much more plentiful.

Tara is your responsibility now,” Lenzu said. “You watch after her, no matter what happens.”

Perhaps one day I will return for both of my friends,” I replied. “Please look after Macho for me.”

He smiled at the gesture, but I could see supreme doubt in his eyes. This was goodbye forever, as far as he was concerned, and he certainly knew more about this savage land than I did.

A fact that rested hard in the pit of my stomach.

The journey had been much longer than I had expected. Much of it was due to us walking, rather than riding a horse. When I first set off on what would become the journey of my lifetime, I didn't believe it was possible. No one could survive underground.

But I was truly mistaken.

Not only did I now believe that Hitler's escape to Argentina and subsequently his escape to a world beneath the surface was possible – I thought that it was very likely. The feared, in how they had been described to me, fit the profile of what we'd known as the Nazi regime, right down to the standard MP 40 machine gun.

Engulfing the importance of that a thousand times over was my belief that this strange, prehistoric world in front of me had been here the entire time. Beneath my own feet as I served my country with military service and walked the streets of countless cities across our globe. I found it humorous that mankind has long been obsessed with the idea of finding life on another planet, even going so far as to develop space ships to get us there. When, this whole time, a world undreamed of was right below us.

As we traveled with the witchers, my eyes saw the purest waters, mountains of sand, forests as far as my eyes could see and even strange creatures that lurked about with curiosity. None of which I'd ever seen before.

For some, there was a resemblance to the animals of the surface. Tiger-like creatures hovered near the tree line of the jungle and looked for a moment. Yet they left us be, either from a primal understanding that they would be bested or from a pure lack of interest. At times, I could see what appeared to be fish zipping from the ocean water and splashing back in moments later. But I also saw things that frightened me. Creatures much to large to be considered normal sea life back on the surface.

During our short time in passing the sand dunes, I spotted a very strange creature that could best be described as a mixed breed of scorpion and giant crab. Even the witchers became nervous – I could sense it on them. I also believe that it's the reason we left the sight of dunes shortly after, as sand stretched the length of the horizon.

These witchers were very strange men indeed, but I also found them to be a fair people. Much more so than the ape men had been. They shared equal portions of food and water with us. Indeed, during times of rest, the witchers would build a large fire and have us sit with them. For many days, none of us had the courage to speak. We listened to them speak amongst themselves in our language, though they never spoke of us.

What is to become of us?” I asked.

The bright orange light of flame licked our faces and I believe the rest of the slaves felt afraid for me. I had likely sealed my own doom by speaking.

Still, I needed to know.

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